In a whirlwind tour of England May 26-June 9, 11 Saint Mary’s students were able to walk in the footsteps of authors whose works they’ve read in class.
Highlights from the trip included going to Lyme-Regis to visit the home of John Fowles, the author of The French Lieutenant’s Woman; the Jane Austen Center in Bath; the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London; a Shakespeare play in Stratford-upon-Avon; and poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s cottage in Nether Stowey. On a free day, several students also visited Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed.
“Visiting these places gave us a better understanding of the literature we read, as well as the authors we studied,” said Ashling Meehan ’15 of Glenview, Ill. “We did a lot of hiking, which many of us rather enjoyed, and we learned that taking walks is very prominent in British culture. Jane Austen’s works especially emphasize the importance of taking a walk in order to clear one’s mind. Experiencing that sort of connection with nature and the literature was very enlightening, and I’m glad it was a big part of the trip.”
Meehan called the trip exhausting yet exhilarating.
“I couldn’t say what was my favorite place, for they were all incredibly different,” she said. “Lyme-Regis is a gorgeous beach town, while London is a beautiful mix of very modern and very old architecture. On our free day, Anna Segner and I went back to Oxford to further explore the city. Oxford has a very interesting history, and is essentially a giant college town. We were there during the students’ finals, so it was very cool to see them all crammed into coffee shops studying alongside copious amounts of tea and cakes,” Meehan said. “And we visited The Eagle and Child pub, where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien met with the Inklings.
“The people we encountered were both welcoming and kind, always interested in where we had been and what we thought of England as a whole.”
The England trip is one in a series of faculty-led short-term study abroad programs that pair academic areas of study with memorable international experiences for undergraduate students.
Students study a specific disciplinary focus and country/region during spring semester within a three-credit course and then travel with faculty members for roughly two weeks shortly after commencement.
Next spring Saint Mary’s hopes to conduct short-term study abroad experiences in several other disciplines. These programs are being developed by faculty members and departments in collaboration with the Study Abroad Office.